INSTAGRAM – HOW TO USE IT FOR BUSINESS

By |2018-09-28T13:50:47+00:00September 26th, 2018|

Little bit of introduction

Social media plays a big role in the world of digital marketing. It allows companies to interact with users in a completely new and unimaginable way. You should be where your customers are – ONLINE!

Social media allows you to transfer ideas, messages, and various content in form of text, audio, video, or photos. What is more important, through social media you are creating a relationship with users. PR specialists don’t use them only for interaction with the audience, but as a powerful analytical tool with which they are more likely to get reaction and feedback to a company’s product or services.

Various analysis and statistical data collected over the years show that channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others can be effective in promoting a company or a business, and have a significant share in the merits of growth and business development – if we use them properly. By this, I mean Community Management in the true meaning of the word, and not just a few posts, once in a while, throughout the month.

You should definitely have a Facebook page if you are a serious business brand. But, if your brand is lacking social engagement on Facebook or Twitter, give Instagram a go. Once again, if you want your followers to engage with your brand, give them quality and relevant content. Don’t just assume that Instagram users will engage simply because you’re on Instagram, posting pictures. 

Meet Instagram

Instagram is a social networking app owned by Facebook and made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. Similar to Facebook or Twitter, everyone who creates an Instagram account has a profile and a news feed.

Basically, Instagram is a photo-sharing app used by a community of more than 800 million people from all around the world. It is known for its square image format and the filters it provides. Instagram is amazing for raising brand awareness, but also, engagement with followers.

Its purpose is to capture and share the world’s greatest moments through the amazing photos. Its all about visual storytelling for everyone from brands, celebrities, fashion designers, fitness freaks, beauty activists, gourmet experts, musicians, and all passionate creative individuals.

In the beginning, Instagram was primarily meant for end users – private persons, not a business. It was supposed to be an app for sharing fun and great life memories captured in amazing photos. But like every other platform, Instagram adjusted to users needs…

How to start? 

If you have decided by now that Instagram is the best option for your business or private blog lets get you set up by opening a profile.

Since Instagram operates as a mobile app, you’ll need your phone or a tablet and a few minutes to set everything up. Once you’ve downloaded the app to your phone, you’ll need to fill in a couple of required blank fields.

  1. Choose one main e-mail so you will be able to check daily notifications in case you have any trouble with your account or if you forget your password. 
  2. In the “Full Name” bar, write the name of your business, company, product or whatever you’re trying to showcase through Instagram. 
  3. Username is very important – make sure the username you choose is the name of your company or brand or product. Users will try to search for your business by typing your name in the search bar…So, don’t add numbers (or too many of them) because it looks unprofessional, spammy and people will have a hard time finding you on Instagram. 
  4. Choose a password – make it hard for people to hack it. Your password, in general, should be a bunch of random letters, numbers, and characters that make no sense. Write it down or simply use the Last Pass and don’t worry you’ll forget it. You can always request a new password from Instagram to your email if you forget it. Better safe than sorry…

Now lets setup your profile 

  1. First of all, you need to upload your profile picture. It doesn’t look good or professional to leave it blank. Depending on the type of your business, it would be nice to have something relatable, for example, your logo or your main product. If you are using Instagram for personal branding, use your own photo. 
  2. Next step is to fill the “Name” field as well. So why is that important? Well, your name and username are the only fields that Instagram considers in search queries which means you absolutely need to make sure that the name you use in your Instagram bio is the one your followers and customers are searching for! That’s why it’s important to use the same name as you did in the username, the name of your company, brand or product line. 
  3. Next thing you should put on your profile is your website link so users can discover more about your company, products and what you do. Instagram only gives users one clickable link on their profile. This link can lead people to your homepage or blog, but if you have an e-commerce business, then you might need to change this link as many times as you need to send your followers toward your latest products, sales or promotions. 
  4. Fill in “Instagram bio” – a short description bar at the top of your profile that serves as an infobox about who you are, what you do, what you’re offering AND it should be written in a way people want to engage with and click “follow”. Try to be unique, emojis are allowed also! Use as many keywords which reflect your core values and defining your business. 
  5. Choose Category for your business according to what you are selling, promoting or writing about if you are a blogger.
  6. In Contact options:
  • Email – fill in your e-mail address so anyone can contact you for more information.
  • Phone Number – fill in your phone number – it’s another way to give audience contact option.
  • Choose action – here you can add an action button if you would like to connect your Instagram profile with other online services so that customers can interact with your business directly from your profile.

If you are a business owner make sure you switch your account to a business profile. Put your profile on public and let users explore it. 

That’s it, you’re all set! Now you need to create content. Amazing content!

How to plan & produce content for Instagram

The great thing about Instagram is that you don’t have to follow anyone you don’t want to. It’s totally up to you to decide who to follow. The main point is to look at pretty pictures for a daily dose of inspiration. 

It is no wonder Instagram is favored by everyone – millennials who love Instagram’s content-first format, as well as marketers who are looking to create brand-sponsored content in collaboration with social media influencers. With Instagram’s popularity, some people turned their Instagram influence into a well-paid career – nowadays called influencers.

Patience first – results later

It’s not gonna be easy and success is not gonna happen overnight. It’s not enough to set up your profile, post a couple of photos with a dozen hashtags and then expect to become famous with thousands of people following you.  With Instagram, you need to make the strategic plan. First, you need to know who your audience is and then find the way to present content in the most appealing way for them to accept it. 

You need to create amazing content, visually beautiful and relevant to your followers. It simply isn’t enough to post a few photos – once followers discover your profile they will certainly come and check your profile just to see all there is to see so they could evaluate your content.

Instagram offers so much: pictures, videos, galleries with a slideshow up to 10 photos, Boomerangs which are basically videos that act like GIFs, Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours…try to make most of it! 

It’s important that you post at least 1 post per day. That’s minimum. You have to choose your niche and stick to it, whether you are promoting fashion, food, certain lifestyle or sports make sure your photos have the same theme.

Say it with a photo – but be careful…This should be one hell-of-a-photo!

For a start try to decide whether you should use some of the filters to give your photos “specific look” so posts will look great and unique speaking of overall profile impression. But you have to be careful not to overdo it – your audience might find your profile boring. From time to time you should post one pop-up photo to make the difference and break the monotony. These pop-up photos should be similar to each other.

I don’t need to point out the importance of high-quality photos, and appropriate size. There is nothing worse than seeing a picture that has low resolution and doesn’t fit Instagram size. Even though you can post vertical and horizontal pictures now, Instagram still loves the square shaped pictures. The higher the resolution the better. If you like to edit pictures or make great visuals with a text I recommend Canva, Studio or Snapseed.

  • Copywriting – the text you put along with photos first of all should have meaning and it needs to be short. People don’t like to scroll through pages of long text. Long text is more convenient for a blog on the website. Make it short & sweet & on point!  If you don’t have anything to say then don’t say it – let the photo speak for itself.
  • Don’t be annoying with selling promotions and stuff like Hurry! Buy! Special offer! Don’t miss!
  • People are supposed to connect with your brand through interesting stories about you and your business, they need to know you are humans as well. Humans that can solve their problems.
  • If you want to be funny consider posting funny videos or photos from your business niche or connected to your brand. For example, if you are selling sportswear do not share funny-cat videos….unless a cat wears the sneakers.
  • Make sure that you interact with your followers! Engage with them! Don’t miss out on an opportunity to hear their opinion, suggestions, and also answer their questions. In order to do so, you need to check your profile at least 2-3 times a day.

Sweeten it with a hashtag

A hashtag is not a joke! It’s a serious thing and important for your Insta-success. 

According to Wikipedia: “A hashtag is a type of metadata tag used on social networks such as Twitter and other microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging which makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content; it allows easy, informal markup of folk taxonomy without need of any formal taxonomy or markup language.”

Hashtags represent symbols or codes that make web search engines understand and categorize pictures on Instagram. When users search for a term that you posted in the caption, your content is shown to them. That’s why you should be careful when choosing the right ones. 

You can also invent your own hashtag, something like a slogan and use it as a regular hashtag with every post or in general every piece of content you create for social media. It can also be the name of your business or brand.

  • Hashtags don’t work on private profiles! If you want hashtags to have an effect you should make your profile public!
  • The hashtag can contain letters and numbers.
  • Before you decide which hashtag to use for your post or in general for your business you should do some research. Try typing the chosen hashtag and see what happens. 
  • If you can’t find anything that means that hashtag is banned or doesn’t exist.
  • Or maybe the result is too many photos you dislike – in that case, don’t use this hashtag.
  • When you think about the hashtag put yourself in a consumers shoes. What would they type in?
  • Be more specific – narrow the search by adding adjectives (#leathershoes instead of just #shoes)
  • Don’t go for popular hashtags, because you can easily mislead people. 
  • Choose the right ones instead – the ones that will bring attention to the best audience – your audience, and potential buyers.

Experiment! In the end, use statistics to see what’s really working for you. Put together the list of max. 30 hashtags which are working the best for you and use them in posts. Also, check what time of the day followers are more engaged with the content you are publishing and make schedule accordingly.

Instagram Stories – today you see me and tomorrow you don’t!

Following Snapchat’s footsteps two years ago Instagram introduced Stories, but they improved it along the way and made it simple to the end user.

Instagram Stories is a feature within the Instagram app where users can capture and post related images and video content in a slideshow format. Stories can be modified with the typical features, content is available for only 24 hours from the time of posting.  Stories allow the addition of text, drawings, and emoticons to images or video clips.

According to Instagram, Stories are made for friends and family to share more of their lives with those they are close with. The feature makes it possible for people to show more content without creating an excess of posts on their Instagram page. Companies can use the feature to promote their products or services in depth while maintaining a clean main Instagram page. The feature can also be useful to promote entertainment, allowing celebrities to have a more intimate, direct connection with their followers.

Stories are featured at the top of Instagram and are one of the best ways to increase engagement and visibility among your followers. 

Instagram Stories are a great way of showing new products, give tips&tricks about how to use the product, or highlight the benefits of the products for end users…It’s a simple and great way to build your brand, build a stronger relationship with your audience, give them valuable content, engage with them and grow wider awareness.

Instagram Ads are available in Stories, as well as in regular feed. But wouldn’t it be great if you pull yourself together, produce awesome content and attract more followers for your brand by doing it organically? Without paying for advertising?

Think about your followers, targeted audience and put yourself in their shoes. Now you are ready to talk to them! Tell them a story – an authentic story to make them fall in love with your brand.